Once upon a time folks who traveled far were treated with suspicion. Sure if you were rich and traveled like the rich you weren’t more suspicious than other rich. But those who traveled more than their class were suspected, correctly on average, of being less loyal to their neighbors.
Reminds me that fake intellectual travel is worst of all.
Back in 2011 many Western cosmopolitan types convinced themselves that the problem with Libya, Syria, etc. was simply "bad government" and that Twitter and Facebook or something would bring those bad governments down, and their replacements would be nice and Western and secular, and why did they think that?
Like you said "...intellectual contact with locals is limited, and usually selected to be like-minded."
Because they experienced personally or electronically bloggers and journos and activists etc. that were most like them.
This is a reply to Aaron Denney.
Not at all obvious. There is much competition between OZ and NZ. The former is more like the US, rambunctious and rough and so on, the successor to Georgia as a penal colony, whereas NZ is more like Canada, more Anglophile, especially Christchurch, which competes with Victoria, B.C., for being "more English than England."
I can think of plenty of countries more like each other than either of these pairs, although many of them are not all that prominent, such as Qatar and Bahrain or Mali and Niger.
And this is why polymaths are a disappearing species.
Stuart, how do you know you have the right values, if you know your values would have been different?
I don't see any way in which there could be an objective standard of what makes a "right" value (beyond consistency), so I don't think this question makes any sense.
Wait, do you mean that your trip was superficial, or his? Granted, partying yourself into unconsciousness for a week isn't going to gain you any insight, but less extreme forms of mundane activities (especially if you speak the local language) can give you a much more useful and broad sense of the local culture than going to look at 1000 year old artifacts can give you of ancient cultures.
I just added to the post.
Is there such a thing as "right values"?
I think an historical comparison is appropriate: what I understand from art and literature in 18th century France and 19th century Britain, polymath cross-cultural experience was valued differently.Both societies at the time were more outward-looking and engaged in the world in an exploratory, if you will 'jihadist' manner.
I've considered this problem before, and my guess is that, today in the US, it's a function of two current cultural trends: (1.) a much higher valuation on self-actualization, which process tends to be both very local and culturally specific; and (2.) economic insecurity
I'd consider Australia and New Zealand to be closer together.
Intelligent Life magazine had an article on the challenges of being a polymath:
I wonder what percentage of economists at top research universities got their undergraduate degree in economics. If it's low, that suggests something's wrong with economics.
Robin, do you feel economists love to point to you as a convert but not trust you farther than they can throw you, and physicists treat you with more suspicion than admiration, when they should all be quite curious about, and deferential toward, your conclusions?
Exchange students attend foreign universities. To do so successfully, I imagine it would require some academic perseverance and a willingness to assimilate the local culture. In any case, if going to school in another country doesn't train you to think like your local classmates, what the heck are your classmates learning?
Of course Canada and the US are very similar, but there are significant differences as well, and one of the biggest differences is politics. This is much more obvious to Canadians, who are exposed to a lot of American politics (for example, basic cable gets you CNN's 24-hour war room terrorgasm), whereas Americans are largely ignorant of goings-on in Ottawa.
For example, we have a multi-party system, the head of government is a member of Parliament, he is treated with very little respect, and in fact governs from a minority. In the US, a sizable portion of the population treat the President like some kind of god-head, and think he has carte blanche to go to war, assassinate, torture, etc. (but usually only when the President is a Republican). And Sarah Palin? She'd have trouble landing a job as a weather forecaster on local television up here. In the states, millions of people think she should lead the country. Isn't that a pretty glaring difference?
The fact is that Canadian people are very much like American people - at least, Canadians west of Quebec are mostly like Americans who live near the Canadian-American border, people from Seattle and New England. We tend to be much more progressive than even those parts of the US, though - gay people can get married in Alberta, but not in New York, and the debate over health care ended before I was old enough to wipe my own bottom.
I do know that many Canadians have a bit of an inferiority complex, and why shouldn't they? Our fair country will never be anything but a fraction as powerful and influential as the US. Still, there's nothing wrong with celebrating our differences as well as our similarities, as long as we're not just being petulant.
Eric, there is a big difference between physicists applying their methods to some econ data, and actually learning economics the way that economists do. I'm talking about the later, not the former.
At some level of course, trying something new is a good thing. But, I find it quite tiresome to read the latest econophysics or psychonomics, which breathlessly exclaims a fruitful intellectual revolution is being stifled by a cloistered cabal of craven insiders. Most of these claims are 1) overstated 2) explain, don't predict, and 3) are not new. Merely being innovative or different is not a good in itself. It's not bad either, but most new ideas are just flat wrong or irrelevant.
Pick your poison: research that tries another variation on a tired but useful theme; bat-shait crazy research that is new and incorrect on many levels.